A MYSTERY EXPLOSION ignited a terrible fire in a French apartment building, killing at least seven people, including a new born infant.
The French police have launched an arson investigation into the devastating fire in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque, a historic Mediterranean seaside town.
The horrifying blast, the source of which is unclear, occurred at 1.30 a.m. on Monday morning, before the blaze tore through the nearby buildings.
The fire apparently extended across the street in the beach hamlet, which is around nine miles from Perpignan.
By early Monday afternoon, local prosecutor Jean-David Cavaillé had verified seven deaths, including the toddler and another youngster.
None of the victims have been recognized as of yet.
He said today that a “preliminary inquiry” into the terrible event in which the floors of numerous homes collapsed had begun.
Residents in South-western France were evacuated as over 100 firemen battled the raging flames.
After jumping from a second-story window to escape, a 27-year-old man was brought to the hospital in severe condition.
Mr Cavaillé added that others who had been injured were being treated in a hospital in Perpignan on Monday.
Nadine Bret, 59, from the area, said she heard a “very loud explosion” before witnessing “huge flames”
“The buildings were ravaged by the flames,” she claimed. “It was total panic.”
Gas cylinders were apparently discovered strewn on the floor near the structure, although it’s unclear if they had a role in the explosion.
Images of the burned ruins of the apartment tower as the rubble spilled out into the street are heart breaking.
Due to the heat, investigators were unable to enter the structure this morning, as firemen combed through the wreckage for more potential fatalities.
Because of the gravity of the situation, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that his scheduled visit to Montpellier to inspect the scene would be postponed.
“As well as the shop, around 11 flats were affected by the blast, and a number of floors collapsed. ” a local police official stated. Gas cylinders were discovered near the bomb site, and it must be determined whether they were used to initiate the explosion.”
A psychological help team had been established, according to the spokeswoman, to assist family and neighbours who had been evacuated in the middle of the night.”
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families,” the statement stated.
“We will mobilise to help them as best we can in these most tragic circumstances.”